Research

Completed Papers:

The Impacts of Lowering the Cost of Secondary Education: Evidence from a Fee Reduction in Kenya

I investigate the Kenyan government’s 2008 public secondary school fee reduction. This policy rapidly increased the proportion of students continuing from primary to secondary school, particularly from areas with low initial primary to secondary transition rates. Using this regional variation in exposure to the program together with birth-cohort variation, I show that the program increased female educational achievement, delayed childbirth and related demographic behaviors, and shifted employment away from agriculture towards skilled work.

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Can School Upgrades Up Grades?

Countries worldwide have been successful at getting children into school but low student learning and low school quality remain concerns. This paper analyzes whether a Kenyan government program that upgraded selected secondary schools to a higher-quality national tier improved student educational outcomes, as measured by student secondary school completion examination results. The program impact is identi ed by comparing student outcomes at upgraded schools to student outcomes at schools that met the government's upgrade eligibility criteria, but were not selected for the upgrade program. I examine only cohorts already enrolled in the schools prior to the upgrade announcements to avoid potential composition changes resulting from the program. Using this difference-in-differences approach, I find that the program did not significantly improve outcomes for students enrolled in the the newly-upgraded schools while the new admissions mechanism admitted more geographically diverse but lower-achieving students.

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A Firm of Ones Own: Experimental Evidence on Credit Constraints and Occupational Choice

(Joint with Maddalena Honorati, Pamela Jakiela, and Owen Ozier)

Young adults attempting to generate an income face a number of potential barriers including limited access to credit, a lack of training, and difficulty identifying a business opportunity. Microfranchising is a new policy intervention designed to remove these barriers by linking unemployed individuals to pre-existing supply chains and a proven business model, helping small groups form microenterprises. This paper evaluates the girls empowered by microfranchising program which was open to unemployed teenage women in three of Nairobi’s poorer neighborhoods. The program provided participants with the human and physical capital necessary to open a small business. The evaluation is a randomized control trial based on oversubscription.


Works in Progress:

Lighting up the night: electrification and academic performance

This paper makes use of a unique dataset combining satellite nighttime lights data with the geo-coded test scores of students taking the Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) between 2010 and 2014 to estimate the impact of electrification on academic achievement. The nighttime satellite data are used to determine when villages gain access to electricity. The impact of electrification on test scores is identified using a difference-in-differences approach comparing students in regions who gain electricity to comparison groups of students in regions that recently gained electricity, as well as comparison groups identified through matching algorithms.

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